Biennial Theatre Festival for Young Audiences / Lyon was founded in 1977
by the artistic directors of the TJA, Maurice Yendt and Michel Dieuaide.
The objectives of this international festival fit fully in the artistic
prospects defined by the activity of creation of the TJA.
The “Théâtre des Jeunes Années (TJA)” witch
benefited since 1981 from the “National Drama Centre” statute
ceased its activities in June 2004. Today, Maurice Yendt and Michel Dieuaide
follow their artistic work directing the Biennial Theatre Festival for Young
Audiences / Lyon.
The Théâtre des Jeunes Années / National Drama Centre,
theatre of art and experimentation, was simultaneously :
• a centre of theatrical creation and production (regular tours around
France and abroad)
• a venue for regional, national and international theatre productions
• a practical theatrical experimentation and training centre for children,
young people and adults (cultural mediators, teachers, academics, actors,
• a centre for research, publication and documentation concerning
contemporary and youth theatre
The text below describes the theatrical conceptions of the TJA and the diversity
of its achievements. After having been, in France, the first permanent theatre
for young spectators, the TJA was, of 1981 to 2004 and at the international
level, one of the principal European theatres for children and young audiences.
A contemporary theatre house
"The expression "theatre for children" has no
meaning in aesthetic terms. In the same way as "popular theatre"
illustrated by Jean Vilar, it describes an audience and not a different
type of theatre. "Theatre for children" simply means a young
audience looking at a theatrical production. It's as simple as that…
and it is also extremely complicated since above all it means theatre…"
(Maurice YENDT, Les Ravisseurs d’Enfants, Editions Actes Sud/Papiers
The TJA's artistic direction was based on Maurice Yendt's experience as
a playwright, and on the search for original contemporary texts. Its repertoire
therefore extended to include very diverse forms of work, texts deliberately
written for young audiences as well as texts for which have not been expressly
written with young audiences in mind. The TJA has created works by Jorge
Gajardo, Victor Carvajal, Jacques Prévert, Richard Demarcy, Evan
H. Rhodes, S. I. Witkiewicz, Akira Saneto, Samuel Beckett, Gert Hoffmann,
Ingegerd Monthan, Barbro Lindgren, Clarice Lispector, Suzanne Van Lohuizen,
Karin Serres, Peter Handke, Jacques Roubaud, Fabrice Melquiot......
Maurice Yendt and Michel Dieuaide regularly worked together with guest
directors, (Bruno Castan, Alain Sergent, Richard Demarcy, Alessandro Libertini,
José Caldas, Etienne Pommeret, Véronique Nah, Laurent Fréchuret,
Dominique Pompougnac, Patrice Douchet... ), and co-produced creations
with other national drama centres and independent theatre companies.
As a contemporary theatre house, the TJA had set itself the objective
of developing children's artistic awareness, their openness to the world
and to artistic languages, their initiation, as young as possible, to
the plurality of forms and contents of contemporary theatre, their access
to an essential critical liberty and to a personal theatrical culture.
The TJA has given full legitimacy to the idea of a cultural public service,
seeking to encourage children and young people from all walks of life as
well as audiences from all cultural backgrounds, notably through a specific
The TJA was also a school for theatre-goers, making these new theatre-goers
aware and coaching them, with the potential to irrigate all theatrical and
cultural life in the Lyon region. These objectives have contributed to maintaining
the theatre's social and artistic influence and to increasing the number
of informed theatre-goers, thus implying the continuity of its actions and
its role in the long term.
Every year, the TJA was providing the "first theatrical experience"
for several thousand children. The TJA's activity concerned an average of
between 50,000 and 85,000 people, according to the season.
A theatre such as the TJA did not only interest children, but also interested
a wide adult audience (parents, teachers, co-ordinators, etc). The TJA's
audience spans the generations and was constantly being renewed.
In 1999-2000, 45% of shows were scheduled in leisure time, as matinee and
Every year the TJA reached out to even greater audiences through tours of
Maurice Yendt and Michel Dieuaide's shows throughout the whole of France
(main decentralised theatres) and in many foreign countries (Germany, Australia,
Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland,
in the town
The TJA was one of the main theatre of the City of Lyon. Its facilities
included a theatre with two auditoriums (one of 450 seats with modular shape
and capacity, one with 90 seats), rehearsal rooms, administrative and technical
The artistic team comprises 18 permanent employees who were joined every
season by 15 to 25 non-permanent actors and by a variable number of artistic
and technical colleagues.
A training area
The TJA/National Drama Centre was involved in many artistic education and
theatrical training activities in partnership with primary and secondary
school establishments and various institutions and associations. These activities
were either part of an institutional framework (twinning, practical artistic
workshops, school projects, cultural classes, teacher training, …)
or according to specific projects. These actions, tailored to the requirements
of the various audiences, involved all theatrical practices (coaching and
expression of theatre-goers, active discovering of drama and theatrical